I MEET AN ADEPT 271
report. For from the doorway of an out-of-the-way tomb of one of Egypt's renowned warrior-kings, I heard the sonorous refrain or loud and recurrent snoring. I hurried over to that tomb, and beheld a prostrate, white-robed man whose face seemed enwrapped in some delicious dream. It was Youssef 1
The days slipped pleasurably by while I slaked my unquenchable thirst for reasearch into the secret thoughts and sacred expectations of the vanished Theban world. I became as familiar—and sometimes as friendly—with those calm, majestic figures of the gods, and those grave preoccupied faces of their mortal adorers, as I did with the living forms of the present-day inhabitants of Thebes' successor, Luxor. And*I noted the psychic signs left in the atmosphere of some of these tombs which marked the mournful declension into sorcerous practices of a once great race.
It was on one of these studious expeditions that I encountered the man whose conversations I have hesitated to record in these chapters, because the implications of some of his statements were beyond my ability to verify by personal investigation and because these statements may either astonish our prosaic century or—more likely—bring down merited ridicule upon his incognito name, and consequently upon myself for having deemed such fables worth reporting. However, I have played the pros and cons in the balance and the scale-pan of the pros has been weighted a trifle heavier than the other. Moreover, it was, and is, this man's wish that I publish these things, whose importance to our time he seemed to rate higher than my own blase judgment could rate it.
I had put in a good day's research among the Tombs of the Kings, having started off soon after daybreak and continued till a late hour in the afternoon. To get home more quickly, I had taken the bridle-path which went over the Libyan Mountains and descended in the vicinity of the unique terraced cliff-temple of Deir el Bahri, and thus avoided, at the price of a stiff mountain climb, the considerable detour made by the ancient road around those mountains.
Here the donkey which had proved so disappointing at first, but to which I had gradually become reconciled—and